Thursday, September 13, 2012

Who are You Writing To?

When we’re working on a manuscript, it’s helpful to have a visual in mind of our audience. Charlotte Rains Dixon wrote a post on it recently, which I mentioned in last Friday’s link roundup.

I don’t have much trouble visualizing the teenage girls that I’m writing to as I revise my Young Adult manuscript. It's a contemporary romance about two teens, one with a very big dream and the other who, it would appear, is okay with “ordinary.” It takes place in think "Music Man" small town America.

I have seen plenty of girls (and their mothers) in the library where I used to work, who would enjoy this book, or one like it. 

They’re probably not the girls who frequent the library sporting shades of hair from blue to orange, and wear short, skin-tight skirts and army boots with four-inch heels. I have nothing against these girls, but they are probably not my target audience. 

The purple haired girls are the hip and trendy girls, or the geeky, maybe wanabe hip and trendy girls. It's possible that they might go for the type of book I write. My heroines are not Buffy. They are not Bella. They may not single-handedly save the world, but they're not passive wimps either. Their world is smaller in scope, school and community-sized, actually, but certainly important to them and the people sharing it. They are also girls who want and need a great boyfriend!

Mostly, I envision my audience to be the other girls, and there are just as many, possibly more, of them as the blue-haired girls. They are the popular girls and the girls who are being homeschooled, and/or are from strongly conservative backgrounds. They're the girls whose mothers try to exert some control over what their daughters are reading. 

When I was a children's librarian, these mothers frequently came and counseled with me about appropriate titles for their daughters, and  became irate when they discovered their daughters had stuffed books for an older, or more worldly-wise, YA audience into their checkout bags.

As authors, we need to be true to ourselves and write books that reflect who we are, our values, what we like to read and, what we want to offer our audience. We write to an audience that shares similar tastes and values.

Who is your audience? Who are you writing to?


  1. It is important to think about your audience! Though I have to admit I was disappointed when my 13-year-old told me this yesterday about the kids at her school: "No one reads. They all hang out on Facebook."

    1. Ooh. That's sad to think that no one reads.

  2. I agree with you. It is important to write the story that reflects our values and who we are as individuals. There are as many readers out there as there are different authors. I tend to write for an audience (adult or YA) that enjoy reading about the grittier side of life, the macabre, the mysterious, danger.

    1. Sounds exciting! I have to admit, Dexter is my husband's and my favorite TV show for edge-of-your-seat suspense.

  3. This is a great topic, Cathy! I think my target audience is a lot like me: dreamy thinkers, who have a passion for words and for slightly-outcast characters, and who aren't necessarily searching for a fast-moving plot, but who enjoy those plots when they come.

    I'm going to think about this some more, though...

  4. Kim, I think your audience is easily identifiable as lovers of fantasy, although I don't read a lot of fantasy, and so I couldn't say where specifically you are. (You probably know.) Definitely on the literary side. I love literary writing, but it's not something that comes naturally to me. So I love reading it instead.

  5. Cathy, I just read another terrific post on this subject on the I.N.K (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) website, by Kelly Milner Halls, one of the writers in Spokane who often speaks at our region's SCBWI events. Here's the link:

    I'm still thinking about who my target audience is, as a group...


Your comments mean a lot to me!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...